Linda Cruse is an international aid worker, disaster management specialist, author, inspirational speaker, creator of the Emergency Zen thought leadership series and social entrepreneur. In 2014 she was appointed a Senior Fellow Residence in the College of Business and Law at the University of Canterbury New Zealand.
Her 17 years of frontline humanitarian aid work has taken her to every continent in the world where she has assisted in some of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters such as the Asian tsunami, the Pakistani earthquake, two Philippine super-typhoons and currently the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, Ecuador earthquake and refugees in Uganda, conflict zones, high mountain nomadic areas and refugee camps, as well as aiding challenged communities worldwide.
In 1996, Linda, a stressed-out mum working in a job she hated, was driving along a motorway in the middle of the night when she suffered temporary blindness. This terrifying episode led to a blinding insight: what is the point of living if life has no point? Determined to make a difference, Linda started a new life. This was the start of a scary, lonely, but always emotionally fulfilling job: teaching skills and bringing aid – and, above all, love – to war-torn refugees, the poverty stricken and the victims of disaster. conflict zones, high mountain nomadic areas and refugee camps.
Linda has fused her passion for adventure, an explorer’s spirit and a deep desire to make a difference to remote communities. To enable her to do this she launched a unique concept, aptly named Be the Change. Linda challenges business leaders to be a catalyst for change with great success. Be The Change uses the entrepreneurial skills and acumen of business leaders to assist in solving some of the world’s intractable problems.
Cruse’s area of expertise lies in bridging the gap between private and public sectors and creating health, education and business development to generate innovative opportunities for sustainable employment, income generation and value add.
Her trademark is her ability to broker powerful partnerships between large businesses who want to help stricken communities, but do not know how to go about it, and local charities. Fired by her determination and ethos of “A Hand Up not A Hand Out”, she takes small groups of highly successful individuals to some of the remotest parts of the world where communities struggle to either overcome natural, or man-made disasters, or to make the most of their existing resources. Be The Change leverages the potent capabilities of these individuals’ vision, know-how and ability to identify income streams, with Linda creating the bridge between entrepreneurs and the communities she has “adopted”.
In one tsunami-devastated area, she brought together, through sheer force of her personality, a panel of entrepreneurs to come up with an alternative to the largely destroyed tourist industry. The local community now makes a much more substantial living exploiting the rubber tree crops in the hinterland of the once thriving beach area.
Linda has faced death on more than one occasion but she has never given up on her mission. Her ultimate aim is to inspire others to do what they can. Linda calls it the “Power of One”.
Linda’s book “Marmalade and Machine Guns” 16 countries, 3 continents, 12 years and one suitcase, one woman’s quest to help disaster-stricken communities back on their feet”, follows her outstanding work and the adventures.
Endorsed by Sir Richard Branson; “Linda makes the impossible, possible.”
Linda has worked side by side with some of the worlds’ most influential figures including HH The Dalai Lama, HRH Prince Charles and Sir Richard Branson and companies including Nestle, Cadburys, Thai Beverage, KPMG, Manpower, Merrill Lynch, Deloitte, GSK, Continental Airlines, Wyeth, Abbott, Allied Dunbar and Hasbro. Linda has also worked alongside foundations such as The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Virgin Unite, the World Bank and numerous local grass roots NGOs.
Linda lectures and teaches worldwide. She is a compelling and inspirational speaker with a unique understanding of motivation, global cultures, leadership and community building.
Linda is also a qualified nurse and magician!